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Smoke and Summons

(Numina, Book 1)
Written by: Charlie N. Holmberg
Narrated by: Scott Merriman, Lauren Ezzo
Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon - a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day - a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down....

©2019 Charlie N Holmberg LLC. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brenda T
  • 2019-07-19

Fun story with likeable characters.

Really enjoyed the narrators. I tend to prefer male voices, however I found that I loved Lauren Ezzo's tone and voice more than her male counterpart. So much so, that I felt she was the character. I also felt the story premise was intriguing even if the story ended as expected. The main characters were really loveable. The one thing that did annoy me was that I felt the villians felt too competent. Every single time the main characters moved around the city (they move a lot), the villians were right there. It seems unbelievable that they we're always discovered so quickly, and that the villians were that efficient with being on top of their every move in a massive city.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Z. Richardson
  • 2019-07-19

Okay Concept, Painful Execution

The setup isn't bad--a thief with daddy issues and an abused runaway slave with terrible power try to escape their pursuers in a hyper industrialized fantasy city. Sounds like a book I'd like to read.

The writing is absolutely painful though. Everything is hyper-dramatic and over-explained. Can a character feel pleasantly surprised by another's gratitude? Nope. That gratitude must flutter up his neck like moth wings. The same goes for every feeling and sensation in the book Screams pierce ears like shattering glass. Balls of guilt write names on stomach linings. Gazes create a warmth somewhere deep in one's core. Relief fountains up necks and over shoulders. Surprise is a bolt of lightning down the spine that totally immobilize (but not really). Touches create an excitement that, I kid you not, runs from fingers, up arms and then *dances in the jaw*. I'm all for striking and original imagery so long as it helps put you in the character's shoes, but Holmberg is reaching so hard for new similes that her words keep getting in the way of her meaning. If not for the success of the Paper Magician, any editor would have asked her to cut out every fourth word before even thinking about publishing Smoke and Summons. I wish they had. The final product would have been much more readable.

The characters are also difficult to swallow. The female protagonist is so unbelievably trusting and sentimental that she makes Snow White look like Mad Eye Moody. Despite growing up in the crappy part of a very rough town and losing her family to criminals and exploitation, she is literally brought to tears by the sight of poor people sleeping in an alley she passes and apologizes for not being able to help them, all this while she's penniless and on the run for her life. The male protagonist is a little more worldly, or he's supposed to be--hardened thief and sometime womanizer that he is--but even he is as emotionally raw as a fifteen year old after a bad breakup.

Neither of them has a plan, really, they just go where they're told or to the first place the other thinks of. Then they fight some bad guys (who are weirdly good at finding them, but only at convenient intervals) and then escape, desperate, alone, without money or friends... until the next chapter when they just crash with a friend or buy an expensive hotel room. The plot just bumps along from location to location, trying to stretch itself out enough for the little exposition dumps that explain the rules of magic so that we can all be surprised when they're broken to subvert our expectations.

I dunno, it's not awful, but it is literally difficult for me to keep listening sometimes. I'm just a couple of hours from the end, and I do want to find out how it all wraps up, but I think I'll have to switch to something else for a bit to recover before continuing. Maybe this is one of those reads that's better in print form.

As for the narration, the male narrator is kinda flat, and the woman sounds like she's gamely trying to read an unfamiliar poem "with feeling" and not really succeeding. The writing isn't doing either of them any favors though, so I don't want to judge too harshly.

Bottom line: Not terrible. Not recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • BSize
  • 2019-06-19

Didn't like the story line, performance is so-so.

While I did like the premise, it was executed poorly. The writing itself was pretty good, but as the story progresses the plot twists are more and more convenient. Ultimately, I didn't like turkey of the main characters very well. As far as the performance, I wasn't impressed with the range on the voices, it was read well, but didn't sound believable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • 2019-02-06

By the end of the book, I was just annoyed.

I honestly think that a great editor could have helped the author with some of the flaws in the book. There were times in the story where I thought I might start to like the main characters, but they just kept making stupid choices and then they were surprised at the consequences of their actions. Or worse ... they were surprised that someone evil did something evil. Why was the main character obsessed over her nonexistent relationship with a demon who possessed her to destroy everything around her? This just didn't work for me.
I know it is a YA book that I got for free but the ending irritated me, because it isn't just a cliffhanger, it almost negates (or makes worthless) the journey you have taken with the characters this far. Nothing is resolved in the first book, so I don't care enough to continue their adventure. Instead, I chose to never know what happens ... which bothers me because there was a lot of potential.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • carolina_miss
  • 2019-08-21

This performance/story is so addicting!

I loved the narrators and the way they switched between her story and his story. Like a good book I didn't want to put my phone down to listen. I loved the whole experience!

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  • Sarah
  • 2019-08-19

Fantastic

loved this book. the two narrators were great and it was easy to follow. a much darker world (in my opinion) than that of the paper magician. i may end up liking this series even better then paper magician. strongly recommended title

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Desiree Hone
  • 2019-07-30

Intrigue, followed by tedious compliance to finish

This book started with 6 star flourish. However, by chapter 9 I was saddened the story became less show and more tell. While I appreciate the the duality of having the male and female plot narrated by its respective gender, the transition sometimes felt incredibly jarring. I'm currently on chapter 11, hoping the final chapters return to the original, introductory magic! |Update after completing the book| Sadly, the predictability of this book trudged on. Both characters saw forced growth that felt no way in line with their previous actions. I ended up reading spoiler reviews of the next book as I don't have a desire to pick it up.

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Heather Tarman
  • 2019-06-17

Didn't Find the Ending as Offensive as some

I expected some awful cliff-hanger that would leave everything up-ended and terribly frustrating after I read the reviews for this book, but I hate to say it - I didn't have that reaction to it. I'm a Holmberg fan and have read almost all of her other books. She totally lost me on Veins of Gold and it was one of the few books I have ever just not finished because I didn't care about what happened. So, all that being said, my expectations were super low. But I thought this is a great story. The characters, setting and plot are all such great fantasy and she brings it to life in a way that really lets me feel like a fly on the wall. I did feel like some strings get left untied but I also thought I got some resolution on certain things, with an understanding that there was more to come. Overall, I liked the characters, story, and narration from Audible (the performer did a great job)! If you like Holmberg's other books, give it a try. It's not as good as Paper Magician but definitely still a winner in my book.

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  • jt55
  • 2019-04-15

recommended

she does a great job with her writing, very imaginative, my daughter loves her books

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Robert Bell
  • 2019-04-11

Alright story, LOVE the narrators

Something about the pacing and POV switching felt off halance to me, but what do I know? The narrator s, especially the woman, sold it for me. I will actively seek out her performances.